In Toward an Exegetical Theology Walter Kaiser proposes a method of interpretation and exegesis which bridges the gap between the study of the biblical text and the actual delivery of that study to a congregation. Arguing that the biblical texts must serve as the foundation for all teaching and preaching, Kaiser develops what he calls the Syntactical-Theological method, which aims to link the original meaning of a text (the meaning intended by its author) to its contemporary significance.
Kaiser stands firmly on the side of tradition by arguing that each text has only one true meaning, that meaning intended by the original author. How do we discover this meaning? Studying the text using the Syntactical-Theological method of exegesis. This method looks at the various aspects of a text, and offers insight on developing a contextual, syntactical, verbal, theological and homiletical analysis. Combining all types of analysis gives us greater insight into the true meaning of the text, which then translates into a better understanding of the text's current significance.
This book was intended as an introduction to the formation of an exegetical theology, and Kaiser hopes that it will be the impetus for others to fill out the rest of that theology. He examines the issues related to exegesis, and offers the Syntactical-Theological method. Its a truly valuable first step, and will go a long way in helping pastors to understand the significance of God's word in their congregation. Kaiser is quick to note that preaching without the Holy Spirit of God, even preaching that uses Kaiser's methods, will be ineffective, and he calls on pastors to combine their diligent study of the word with an utter dependence upon God's Spirit. When this is done, the Word of God will be truly and effectively preached, and it will return to God after accomplishing its purpose.
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Review 1 for Toward an Exegetical Theology
Date:November 24, 2001
This book has shaped my approach to exegesis.I came to the discipline of exegesis with a naive question, What should be done to the Word to make my heart burning? In the chapter on contextual analysis, Kaiser argues, The exegete must feel that his primary obligation is to find the thread of thought which runs like a life stream through the smaller and larger parts of every passage. To put it another way, each biblical author has had a purpose in mind when he wrote, and as long as we are connected to it, we are able to receive the power of the message. While this sounds simplistic, I would note that rarely a biblical commentator is true to this principle.The whole book is developed around this, and the chapters that follow show how grammar, syntax, history, and biblical theology all contribute to better understanding of the authors purpose. The chapter on homiletical analysis discusses the principles of continuing the authors purpose in our day. There are also special chapters discussing exegetical principles for prophecy, narrative, and poetry. In the concluding chapter, Kaiser indirectly tells us why we are only moving toward an exegesis: most of those who wish to observe all the discussed methods are likely to throw hands up in despair and exclaim in exasperation, Who is sufficient for these things?I felt the same when I first read the book, so I put it aside. Now, as I continue struggling with exegesis, I see that there is no other way than returning to the high requirements.